You wanna know how to send me off on a foul-mouthed tirade? Tell me what I "should" do. I'm 50 years old.
I (mostly) listened to my mother. I listened to my teachers and mentors. But most importantly, I listened to myself. And what I found is that no matter how good the advice and shoulds the best lessons I've ever learned were from my own actions or inaction and experiencing both in my own time.
No one is living your life but you. Sure, others are more-than-happy to weigh in on how you should live it, but ultimately it circles back to you, the decisions you make, or the actions you take...or don't.
I really wish the word should were stricken from the modern lexicon. It's essentially worthless. It's rife with agenda and, more often than not, bullshit opinions from people who haven't even mastered the intent behind the suggestion. I detest when people tell me I should or shouldn't do something. Especially when it's people who don't know me, don't know my story, haven't read my book (or written one of their own), don't know my legal name, and certainly have no clue WHO I am as a person...only what they see on LinkedIn or the numerous socials I inhabit. Sure, have an opinion. But the very last MF thing you might want to tell me is what I should be doing. I'm good...trust. I've lived a life long and rich enough to know exactly what's right for me at any time. My instincts are amazing. And even if I make a mistake or misstep, the lessons I learn from them are pure nectar and something I can apply to my next attempt at the same thing.
As a coach and mentor, I am hyper-aware of the word should. I don't use it. And if I do I catch it and immediately correct myself. I can only suggest...sometimes strongly. But I feel I have neither the authority or the right to tell anyone what they should do with their life or their decisions. I can only offer suggestions and options based on my own experience and learnings. That's it. I'm mostly right, but only mostly. How people interpret the information I give them is a completely unique endeavor with unique results. When I coach I do my best to make it plain as day and get my clients to remove as much emotion from the decision as possible and get to the facts. By being incredibly rational in those decisions there's really no room for should-ing all over anyone. Instead, I empower them with facts, figures, stats, and previous outcomes and beliefs that worked or didn't. To me, that's the power of good coaching vs. telling people what to do with a bunch of shoulds and if I were yous. Not my job.
Being conscious of your words is a practice we should all dive into this new decade. Filling the silence with your opinions about someone else's life, decisions, or intentions doesn't really help the person you're intending to help. All it does is make you look holier than thou (um...you're not), and actually bring more scrutiny onto yourself like, "Who the hell is this trying to tell me anything?" If you're all up in my comments with shoulds know that I've already tuned you out and about 2.5 more weeks away from blocking your ass. I'm not going into this month with anymore serial should-ers or hangers-on in my comments section. I'm all for a good debate and an intelligent counterpoint. But if you're trapezing from my syllables and daring to tell me what I should or shouldn't be doing as I say in my 'hood, "Yo ass 'bout to get nuclear blocked." I advise anyone enduring this tacit lack of online etiquette and self-awareness to do the same. It's freeing like you wouldn't believe.
Should as a word or a concept is over. Instead, suggest. Softly or strongly. Even then that can be annoying AF, but it's less dictatorial than the word should. Especially if you haven't absolutely creushed the very thing you're telling someone they should or shouldn't be doing. Be more conscious of your language. It's a process and will take a lot of unlearning and numerous corrections during conversations. But it's something that will pay HUGE dividends in respect by those you're trying to help and those watching (read: judging) you in the comments section.
Phoenix is coaching and supporting American billionaires, CEOs and executive teams in tech, retail and banking for over 25 years. He also founded and created MEGA Assistant University, a revolutionary skills and mindset “boot camp” for top Executive and Personal Assistants who want to level up quickly and begin forging a mutually successful business partnership with their executives and teams. Phoenix holds a Bachelors of Arts in European Studies/Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin.